2013 WTA Memphis Preview
Steve Fogleman, TennisEastCoast.com
U.S. National Indoor Tennis Championships
WTA International Event
Memphis, Tennessee, USA
February 18-Feburary 24, 2013
Though it lacks the firepower of the men’s draw, the Memphis women’s competitors make up for it with a heavy American contingent and a wide open field. Don’t expect to see top seed Kirsten Flipkens taking on 2 seed Sofia Arvidsson in the Final, because it won’t happen.
No matter who I believe will win the main draw, the qualifying field is extremely strong and the placement of the qualifiers could dramatically affect the results. I expect Keys to take the first spot, Falconi to qualify, as well as Jana Cepelova and Taylor Townsend. Any of those players could destroy your bracket in the first round.
#34 in the world is good enough to make top seed in the WTA draw, and Kirsten Flipkens isn’t exactly used to the seeding. She managed to win her first title in Quebec last September. Expect her to surpass Shahar Peer in the first round. Lesia Tsurekno is her second round opponent provided she outlasts one of the dreaded qualifiers. If Tsurenko plays Flipkens in the second, an upset watch is in order.
2012 Washington champion Magdalena Rybarikova opens with Stephanie Foretz Gacon and will meet the winner of Ksenia Pervak/Lauren Davis. This could be a nice time for American Davis to make a WTA run, but she’ll be tested in the opener and a possible second round. Expect the winner of this eighth to strongly challenge Flipkens or Tsurenko in the quarters.
The quirky career of dude favorite Sabine Lisicki finds itself currently at #40, down from the teens this time last year. Nevertheless, she finds herself in the easiest quarter of this tournament and has a very realisitic shot at picking up her fourth WTA singles title. She opens with a qualifier, and with a win, she’ll face the Olga Puchkova/Melinda Czink winner for a quarterfinal berth. Czink’s career is all but over at this point. She’s the walking dead of the WTA. Puchkova will be a pushover for Lisicki.
Kristina Mladenovic may face Lisicki for a semifinal berth, provided the French woman with the Serbian name beats Memphis Tiger Courtney Collins and the winner of the match between Johanna Larsson and Haitian-American Victoria Duval.
Heather Watson has a quarter as top seed? It’s earned based on her recent success, but it won’t be easy to defend. She’s bound to advance over Galina Voskoboeva in the first round. After that, she’ll face a dangerous opponent in either Andrea Hlavackova or Melanie Oudin. These are two players who are able to perform above their rankings at any given moment.
Looking to meet up with the winner of those players will be Hlavackova’s doubles partner, Lucie Hradecka. Hradecka will need to get past a pesky qualifier before she meets Stefanie Voegele or Silvia Soler-Espinosa in the second.
Hradecka could come out of this quarter, but I see Oudin triumphing on home hard courts.
2 seed Sofia Arvidsson does business with a qualifier before meeting up with the winner of Marina Erakovic and Annika Beck. Erakovic is a sleeper here, but Arvidsson should be able to reach the quarters.
The top part of this quarter is open. While Chanelle Scheepers is the top ranked player in the eighth, she’s way off the form she posted last summer when she was world #29. She should get by Coco Vandeweghe. Jamie Hampton is near a career high and should smoke wild card Garbine Muguruza. Hampton would have a slight edge against Scheepers for the right to play Arvidsson to book a trip to the semis.
I won’t even bother naming a dark horse because there are so many. The contenders are Melanie Oudin, Jamie Hampton, Andrea Hlavackova, Lesia Tsurenko and an American qualifier to be named later.
Lisicki d. Rybarikova
Hampton d. Oudin
An All-American semifinal will find two Racquet Club of the South alumni slugging it out to the other’s familiar game in three sets. Hampton is 0-2 vs. Oudin in WTA play, but she is peaking right now.
Lisicki d. Hampton
The Southern Belle will be the overwhelming crowd favorite (except for a few guys in the stands), but Lisicki’s title experience will prevail as she wins a fourth WTA title.
You would think Jamie Hampton was content to cruise along like a stealth bomber over the last couple of years as a name that only US tennis enthusiasts knew. She had to go and ruin all of that last night by taking 12 games off of Vika Azarenka. The world #1 looked weak in that second set and the first half of the third. The Auburn Tiger’s run ended at the Australian Open with the 3rd round loss, but there has never been more internet chatter about the Birmingham Bomber.
2013 looks to be a great year for Jamie which will see her crack the top 50 or better. Now I just wish she’d claim the free url that’s been held in trust for her for years, jamiehampton.com. She’s no triple threat chatterbox like Irina Falconi, but her growing fan base demands to know more about her. Here’s hoping!
Last year, it took a second round matchup against Maria Sharapova to introduce Jamie Hampton to the world. This year, she’ll take on Vika Azarenka for an Australian Open Rod Laver Arena encore, thanks to a 6-1, 6-2, 57 minute drubbing of Thailand’s Luksika Kumkhum tonight in Melbourne. Hampton won her first ever grand slam match during the same week last year and advanced to her first ever grand slam third round tonight. She seems to play her best tennis at Melbourne Park.
With the match certain to be featured on Laver (and to be shown on television everywhere, including the US, which is no small matter), Hampton will be a profound underdog against Vika. It’s a role the Alabama native is used to playing, and the experience she gained last year against Sharapova should help her nerves throughout the big match. And she does have the consolation of knowing that win or lose, Hampton’s current career high ranking of 63 can only improve next week. What a year for her, and it’s only January 17.
Jamie Hampton played in her first WTA semifinal tonight, and despite a sloppy performance by both players in Auckland, she managed to take 12 games from world #4 Agnieszka Radwanska before falling in two close tiebreaks where both players had chances. At a career high ranking of #70, she is certain to improve on that leading into the final week before the Australian Open. This was a run of which to be proud and poises her for great expectations in Melbourne Park.
A. Radwanska d. J, Hampton 7-6 (4), 7-6(3)
It also appears that Yanina Wickmayer is finally back. She’ll face Aga in the final after dispatching Mona Barthel in a tight three setter.
If you know a thing or two about this blog, you know that we love Irina Falconi and Jamie Hampton. The Family Circle Cup just got a little better as they have both been awarded main draw wild cards, according to the tournament’s website.
Hampton, a 19-year-old Auburn, Alabama native who used to drive three hours each way every day to train at the Racquet Club of the South in Atlanta, is the subject of a very inspirational story, especially at today’s gas prices.
Irina Falconi, the former Georgia Tech Yellow Jacket/Energizer Bunny, is a compact and competitive player with as much heart as the top 10 combined.
No Family Circle Cup would be complete without Melanie Oudin, who could definitely use a long run into the main draw at a WTA Premier event. She received a qualifying wild card.
They join Hayley Carter, Shelby Rogers, Alison Riske, Grace Min and Maria Sanchez as Family Circle Cup contestants with South Carolina or Georgia connections.
Forget Miami for a moment. Charleston is the real Southern Ball of the WTA.
Cardiac Kid Christina McHale Barely Fails to Repeat as Quarter Finalist at Indian Wells; Hampton Retires #bnppo12
What a day of ups and downs for the USA WTA contingent. The sole surviving American interests in the women’s part of the BNP Paribas Open faced significant drama and yes, ’swings’ of all kinds.
First, Jamie Hampton, the New South’s new tennis darling (after ignominious hard times for Melanie Oudin), had placed #5 Agnieszka Radwanska in a difficult spot. After giving away the first set, Hampton rallied to win the second in the breaker and clearly had the momentum. Then, Hampton gave way and retired in the third set, yet another victim of the Infamous Indian Well Water Bug.
But the toughest news of today is that Christina McHale, our Mid-Atlantic sister, lost in dramatic style against 2011 US Open Semi-finalist Angelique Kerber of Germany. It was another topsy-turvy match for McHale, who won a comeback three-setter on Sunday against 2011 Wimbledon Champion Petra Kvitova. Today’s final score of 3-6, 6-3, 6-7(4) was even a tighter loss than the tight win McHale notched against Kvitova. McHale and her Navy failed to sail forward to face the winner of Kirilenko/Petrova, who play later tonight. Kerber will face that winner. But tonight, it was McHale who showed an aura of grit and determination about her that suggests that she will do much greater things in her career than simply getting back to a second straight Quarterfinal in Indian Wells.
The first matches of the day are just wrapping up at the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells, California, and it can already be declared a banner day for USA tennis. Two American women have cruised through to the third round. World #99 Jamie Hampton upset #14 Jelena Jankovic 6-4, 6-3 for the Alabama native’s first victory over a top-15 opponent. Christina McHale also took care of business against Elena Vesnina 6-3, 7-5.
On a local note, Denis Kudla finished off a nice comeback against Tobias Kamke moments ago, 2-6, 7-6 (3), 6-4 in a match where it seemed neither player had the will to win at times. This was a rematch from their last meeting in Memphis, and a much closer result than in Kudla’s victory over Kamke in the Volunteer State. If you’re wondering what took them so long to decide the winner of the match, now you know. Kudla not only won the match, but he also won the right to play the greatest of all time, Roger Federer, in the next round.
Americans Sloane Stephens and Vania King play later tonight.